£35,000 police bill for Belfast riots

 

Policing student violence in south Belfast on St Patrick’s Day cost over £35,000, it was revealed today.

Riot police were called to Carmel Street in the Holylands after drunken youths vandalised a car then threw cans and bottles at officers.

A total of 19 people were arrested and two members of the force injured.

Residents’ spokesman Ray Farley said: “The money would be better spent on other things.

“It is an area where there’s not a lot of respect for the environment and people there do what they want to do.”

Police bearing shields and wearing helmets confronted the troublemakers and there were later enhanced patrols in the area. Young people had been drinking from early in the day and house parties later spilled onto the streets.

Police were asked for details of their spending by Ulster Unionist peer Lord
Laird.

It totalled £49,242 for St Patrick’s Day including the cost of policing the concert and parade but £35,611 was for the Holyland trouble.

Mr Farley added people were constantly drinking beer and listening to loud music with minor acts of vandalism. Halloween is another flashpoint period.

“There are a lot of nice houses in the area... unfortunately it is skewed in the direction of very short term tenancies which have no real stake in the area,” he added.

Democratic Unionist Party Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt said people would be appalled to learn how much money had been spent.

“At a time when the police budget is extremely pressed it is disgraceful that this amount of resources should be consumed trying to prevent a drunken mob from destroying this part of south Belfast.”

South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell also condemned the troublemakers.

Lord Laird said the total showed the scale of the challenge faced by police.

“That is taxpayers’ money and could have gone to other and better causes,” he said.

“It puts more pressure on both universities to get the situation under control in the Holylands area.”

PA